I came to Utah, from India, almost 10 years ago. At first, I was unsure if I would like this foreign place thanks to the snickering reaction of my co-passengers when I mentioned my destination. Some of them warned me about a predominant faith and a culture that I knew nothing about. But before I could even consider their warnings, I had to face the numbing cold that greeted me when I got off the flight in early December. Utah's frigid air and scant oxygen became the first shock for me to overcome.
After almost a decade of living in Utah, I never felt the need or desire to leave. I graduated from school here, married here, bought a house, and paid taxes as a resident. I learned to dress warmly in the winter and took up snowboarding. In summer, I enjoy the breathtaking scenery while hiking in the mountains. I adhere to my family's long-standing faith and have a great respect for the others who do the same. Utahns have been great friends, neighbors and coworkers to me. And every day I realize how wrong those outside and uninformed judgments were about this state's people and culture.
While all my experiences have helped me understand and appreciate Utah, I really had no reason to be especially proud of this community. It was just another great place to live. But my feelings changed when I visited the Fourth Street Clinic for a tour of their new dental clinic two weeks ago. While I have driven by the clinic (on 400 South, opposite Pioneer Park) hundreds of times, I never expected to see what I saw inside. It is a state-of-the-art, patient-centered health care center for Utah's homeless population. The Fourth Street Clinic serves 4,200 homeless men, women and children each year with 25,000 medical, mental health, substance abuse, dental, and case management visits.